One night a couple of summers ago, my family decided to make a late night S’mores run to the grocery store.
My husband had made a fire pit out of some kind of giant can, and the kids wanted to roast marshmallows. We do exotic S’mores at our house, my personal favorite with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, recipe here.
But I digress.
The point is, we needed supplies.
Our neighborhood is quiet, but to get to the store, we have to pull out on a busy highway with a 50-mile-an-hour speed limit. It’s a little bit out in the country, and people seem to think that the speed limit on that road is more of a suggestion.
When my husband pulled the car out, we could see a car coming, headlights far in the distance. Plenty of time.
But then, he sped up, flooring the gas. “Aw, he had to come up so quick! I wish he would just pass!”
I looked back and saw headlights really close in the back window. “Oh, well,” I thought. It happens a lot on that highway.
We drove the few blocks down to the grocery store and pulled into the parking lot. I heard my husband say, “Oh, great. here he comes.”
We parked, and a man in a dark red SUV slammed into the parking space next to us on my side. He motioned for my husband to roll down the window.
My husband, a logical and peaceful fellow, obliged.
The man was shaved bald. Mean bald. He was also brawny and belligerent and very angry with my husband.
He pointed at my husband and shouted over me, “HEY man, YOU CUT ME OFF!!!”
Ben said, calmly and logically, across me in the passenger seat, “Oh. Well. I didn’t realize how fast you were going.”
Mad Bald Man did not appreciate the accountability my husband offered. He raised his eyebrows and shouted again, “Well, you CUT ME OFF back there!!”
And I sat between these two, with Ben in the driver’s seat to my left and this man in the parking space to my right.
Ben kept repeating that he had not intended to cut the man off, but he did not know how fast he was going. Mad Bald Man kept yelling and shaking his finger at Ben. At one point he mentioned the two of them getting out of their cars to discuss it.
I looked back and forth at them as Ben talked and the other guy shouted, like watching a very dark and mildly violent parking lot tennis match.
Finally, Mad Bald Man pointed at me and said, “And you know what YOU need to do–you need to tell your husband he needs to learn how to DRIVE!”
I had been praying the whole time, “Oh no, God, what do we do?” Just a quick prayer, an S.O.S.
At one time in my life, I would have been freaking out by now, uncertain and deeply afraid.
But that night, I looked at the mad bald man, his face red, veins bulging, fist shaking. I looked at my husband, earnestly telling the whole truth.
And I wanted to laugh.
I did know that it was possibly dangerous, but I have just become bored with bullies.
He shook his finger at me and told me what I needed to do.
I looked at him and cocked my head to one side. I said, “Actually, I know what I need to do. I’m calling the police.”
“What for??? For your husband cutting me off?!?”
“No,” I said. “For harassment. From you.”
And I picked up my phone and dialed 911.
My husband said, “Oh no. Don’t call them. Too much paperwork.”
The guy wanted to fight, and Ben was worried about paperwork.
At that point, I had already called 911. But for some reason, it didn’t go through.
I looked at it again. I dialed it again. I held it to my ear.
I looked at it, holding the screen where the guy couldn’t see it.
For some reason, my phone wasn’t dialing. And everyone was looking at me–Ben, Mad Bald Man, and a car full of kids. My husband said, “Oh, please don’t call them, we’ll be here all night.”.
Mad Bald Man shouted, “NO, you call them! Go ahead and call ’em!! CALL THEM!! and I will stay right here, and I will tell them how YOUR husband cut me off!”
And I looked at him and said, “Ok. I called them. Just so you know.”
And then proceeded to talk into my phone. To an imaginary 911 operator.
“Yes, Operator,” I said, into the silence. “We are being harassed by a white male in his mid-30s. Bald.” I gave the location of the store.
And I kept talking.
To the home screen.
The guy sat there really mad for a minute and then totally deflated. He slumped over his steering wheel like a broken man and stared out the window. Then he got out and slammed his door and walked into the store.
I got out too, so he could hear me, and I said, “Yes ma’am, he’s still here, I can see him, he’s entering the building.”
After he was gone I walked back to my family in the car. I still had the phone on my ear and was still talking, even though the guy was gone. My husband said, “Please tell them not to come. It’s fine. Tell them he’s gone. No biggie.”
I forgot–they didn’t know. The whole imaginary-operator thing. They had no idea. I put the phone down and looked at my kids, all round eyed in the back seat.
I looked back at my husband, and I said, “It’s not them. I never called anyone. I faked it. I’m just talking to myself.”
And I fell over laughing.
My kids’ faces. Priceless. Scared expressions went from confused disbelief to relief and laughter.
Ben shook his head. It’s not the only time in our seventeen years of marriage that he’s looked at me like that.
We waited a minute. We moved the car, and then we went in the store and got our S’mores ingredients. When we came out, the red SUV was gone.
Now. By the way.
I do not recommend fake calling 911 as a course of action if you are harassed. And for the record, technically, I didn’t lie. I did call 911. Twice. It just didn’t go through. But it worked. And the guy got mercy. And we laughed. And we went home. And we had S’mores.
And my kids still tell tales of this night.
It will go down in history.
I’m asking for new ways to deal with old stuff. For all of us. Ways that make us laugh. And bring breakthrough. And go down in history.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy. Ps 126:2-3
Oh, and P.S. Happy anniversary, Honey. We make a great team.